North Miami Mayor Josephat 'Joe' Celestin

North Miami Mayor Josephat 'Joe' Celestin

Josaphat Joe Celestin, 44, was sworn in as mayor of North Miami, Miami-Dade's fourth-largest city.

With a population of nearly 60,000, the city is now believed to be the nation's largest city with a Haitian-American as mayor.

Celestin and Despinosse join the city's first Haitian-American council member, Ossmann Desir, to form a Haitian-American majority on the five-person council.

After today, those in the elected offices, those sitting in elected office can no longer afford to take our vote for granted, Celestin said, his voice heard by another 500 people who listened attentively through loudspeakers set outside the city's armory.

Celestin, a builder who immigrated to the United States in 1979, won 53 percent of the vote to defeat Arthur Duke Sorey, an African-American former council member.

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Forty years after Haitian immigrants started arriving to the United States in large numbers, and 20 years after the first waves of Haitian refugees started coming to Florida shores, a new generation of Haitian-American political leaders is emerging. Some came as children with their parents, while others were born here. Many were educated in American colleges. They are politically astute and media savvy. They have high-powered jobs and outsized ambitions.

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